From: Rick Callahan, Associated Press
Published October 26, 2005 12:00 AM

Activists Allege Army Distorted Truth about Nerve Agent Disposal

INDIANAPOLIS — Activists in six states have accused the Army of distorting facts about the disposal of waste from the destruction of a deadly nerve agent stockpiled in western Indiana.

Army contractors are working to eliminate VX, a Cold War-era chemical weapon, by converting it into a caustic substance called hydrolysate at the Newport Chemical Depot.

The Army wants to transport that waste -- which has been compared to liquid drain cleaner -- to a DuPont plant in New Jersey for treatment and disposal in the Delaware River.

But several watchdog and environmental groups urged the Army in a joint letter last month to destroy the waste at the Newport depot because it would be safer, cheaper and faster.

Craig Williams, director of the Chemical Weapons Working Group in Berea, Ky., said his group and activists from Indiana, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio and Pennsylvania are upset with the Army's reply to their proposal.


In a letter they sent Monday, the activists claim the Army's Sept. 27 response was filled with "distortions" and "inaccuracies."

Williams said the Army has exaggerated technical problems involving the process the activists suggest be used to treat the hydrolysate at Newport, about 30 miles north of Terre Haute, Ind.

The director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Michael Parker, said the on-site process the groups endorse poses "very significant engineering challenges."

Parker said DuPont has successfully demonstrated technology to treat the waste, citing the previous destruction of waste from mustard agent.

Williams said that is misleading because mustard hydrolysate is chemically different from VX hydrolysate.

Army spokesman Jeff Lindblad said DuPont intends to use the same treatment process. "The pretreatment would be the only thing that would be different," Lindblad said.

Source: Associated Press

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